Saturday, April 19, 2003, 1:00 p.m.
N. 09 degrees, 03 minutes
W 126 degrees, 46 minutes
Hello to all our friends and family!
My last message, unfortunately titled "more boobies," got tagged by some of you as X-rated junk mail. For that I apologize, If you missed the message, it was about a particularly obnoxious blue-masked booby (large, tropical pelagic bird) who insisted that Sequoia was his new home. Over and over! His friends weren't far behind. I received at least one message asking to be removed from our mailing list, and I assume that was the cause. Obviously, I totally missed the double meaning, and I'll try to be more careful in the future!
We continue pressing through the northeast trades, toward the equator. We've heard about having your sails on the same setting for days on the end, but we never dreamed it would be minimal sails: three reefs in the main, and only a little handkerchief of the genny showing. We have 20 - 30 knots of wind, and have had that for several days now. It pushes us at a steady 7-8 knots of speed. It is beastly hot and humid, and the cooling effect of a shower lasts about five minutes. The motion of the boat, too, is fairly difficult, and all of us lurch about looking for the next handhold. We've broken a few dishes, and spilled a number of things we would rather not have spilled. Despite this, we're all in fairly good spirits. No one has jumped down anyone else's throat (actually, who would have the energy!?)
The delight is in seeing the vast endless ocean. The water temperature is too hot for any good fishing, so we've given that up for the time being. We see clouds of flying fish now. I say "clouds," because they are closer to mosquitos flitting over the water, than they are to a "school" of fish, or a "flock" of birds. But they're much faster than mosquitos, and much prettier. Sometimes 30 or 40 of them will leap out of the water at once, skimming perhaps 50 feet along the waves. Sometimes they skip off a wave and fly a little further.
Another amazing thing is the color of the water. When the sun is out, it is that poster paint blue I described from our becalmed days. When it's cloudy, it's more like a grey northwest ocean. But in either case, when a wave is about to crest, it becomes so thin you can see through it, and the color is like pale turquoise stained glass. The effect is most noticeable in the early morning or late afternoon, when the light is behind the wave. Yesterday morning, when I was alone on watch, I saw the most amazing confluence of these effects: a cresting wave, with turquoise lenses lit from behind, and a spray of flying fish fanning out against the sky from the top of the wave. It was so spectacular, that I would expect to see it emblazoned on some tourist t-shirt.
Our weather report says we get another day of this, and then we'll start to get into the much dreaded (or much anticipated) ITCZ (inter tropical convergence zone), also known as the "doldrums." Ordinarily the doldrums are an area of no wind, but evidently we will encounter light winds, and the occasional "squall" (small, but potentially high winds).
An addendum by Craig, just before sending this out - this afternoon the wind abated, along with the waves, and it got very pleasant but for the all-pervasive heat. Then, after a great dinner Barb put together (sliced roast beast, salad with our last avocado, and steamed carrots) we got into our first squall. This was a rainstorm, which we could see clearly on the radar, through which we slowly sailed. It really poured, the first time this trip. We all enjoyed it and I'm sure the decks are a lot less salty. I got soaked, but since I was wearing nylon swim shorts and tropical shirt, it was more pleasant than a problem. Two showers in one day...what a luxury!
We'll keep you posted - - In the meantime, please keep writing and I'll try my very hardest NOT to send e-mails with suggestive junk mail-ish titles!
Craig & Barbara Johnston